Setting & Repair

Zur Trocknung genadeltet PhasmidenDried and papered phasmids, as commonly supplied by entomological dealers, must be relaxed before ready to set. This is achieved by placing the phasmids overnight, or for at least two hours (depending on size of the specimen), in an airtight container on a layer of moist tissue. The water steam makes the phasmids flexible again and enables to move the legs and antennae into the desired position. However, before setting the insects, ensure that all legs are fully relaxed and handle them with care as they still tend to be very fragile.
Phasmids are best pinned through the metanotum to attain a well-balanced centre of gravity and the pin should be pushed through the body for the distance required by the collector. A minimum of 15 mm is recommended to facilitate easier handling of the insect and enable data labels to be added later. It has proven best to push the pin as far as it is wished to retain in the dried specimen. Depending on the size of the phasmids, stainless insect-pins with chemo-resistant heads are used in the following sizes: No. 1 (for small or very thin phasmids like Gratidia), No. 2 (for Ramulus, Sipyloidea or thin males), No. 3 (e.g. for Lonchodes, Aretaon, Phyllium and all other species with a maximum body length of 15 cm), or No. 4 (for very large and massive phasmids like e.g. Heteropteryx, Haaniella, Pharnacia or Eurycnema). In the cabinet drawer all specimens over 10 cm long should have a fine pin (size 00 or 0) placed on each side of the abdomen to prevent the insect to rotate and damage other specimens.    


Zur Trocknung genadeltet PhasmidenThere are various ways to set phasmids, but it may be up to one self into which desired position the legs and antennae are moved. Generally the position of the legs depends on the financial expenses and available space in ones cabinet, or whether the specimen is meant to be for exhibitional purpose or for scientific examination, e.g. under a stero-microscope. For the latter case it is best to place the legs close to, or in line with the body. Laying the antennae backwards over the body and folding the front legs particularly helps saving cabinet space, makes the preserved insects less akward when handled and reduces the risk of legs or antennae braking off. For preservation in a chemical solution, in which the insects a immersed head foremost, all legs need to be firmly held in position by crossed pins. In species with very long and akward legs, these should not be angled to strong as they run danger to brake off when the lid of the cabinet drawer is closed.
If the innsect is winged, one or both wings may be spread out. This is best done with the use of a butterfly setting board, which is recommended in two different sizes, one with a narrow central groove and a second with the central groove wider than usual for very large phasmids. Some entomological suppliers offer boards in which the width of the central groove is adjustible. Alternatively, if no setting board is at hand or the phasmids are wished to be preserved in a chemical solution, the wing(s) can be raised by a piece of polysterene of the relevant thickness which is placed underneath the wing. The wings are at best spread at an angle of 90° to the body axis. This is achived by the aid of transparent paper strips which are placed over the wing and held in position by several pins just above and below the outspread wing(s).


Gespannte Phasmiden

If the body, legs or antennae are broken, they may be glued back on using special water-soluble insect-glue which can be obtained from entomological suppliers. This involves carefully positioning the appendage and holding it in place with pins, until the glue has hardened. For very small broken pieces (e.g. fractions of the antennae) it is recommended to glue them to cardboard labels which can be pinned below the specimen. Instead of using special insect glue, usual wood-glue has proven to be very useful for repairing broken specimens. This is often much stronger and cheaper than insect-glue and, although white when fresh, becomes more or less transparent when hardened.


preparation adviceHere you can download a detailed preparation advice (in German only- produced by Oskar Conle for his technical assistants) for "fresh or frozen" phasmids: